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Court challenge to npower injunction lifts restrictions on photography at Radley Lakes

15 May 2007 - EPUK

Energy giant RWE Npower have agreed to vary the terms of their controversial injunction served on press photographer Adrian Arbib following a legal challenge by civil liberties organisation Liberty and work by the National Union of Journalists.

The change means that environmental photojournalist and EPUK member Arbib can now photograph without restriction at the Oxfordshire beauty spot.

“I’m pleased that this draconian injunction on the media has been overturned”, Arbib told EPUK. “If npower had succeeded, it would have been a dark day for the media.”


How EPUK has covered the story:




16 Feb: Npower places injunction on EPUK member See here



20 Feb: The npower injunction in full See here



22 Feb: Revealed: the npower statements that persuaded a court to grant the injunction See here



22 Feb: Sqweegee: The law as an ass See here



8 Mar:Npower injunction judge: It was never meant to be used against professional photographers See here



17 May:How npower lost its credibility over the Radley Lakes injunction See here

The injunction was opposed in court by Liberty, who represent four of the six named defendants. The NUJ, who represented Arbib, did not attend court after an informal agreement with npower’s solicitors was agreed prior to the court date.

Npower purchased the site, home to wildlife including otters and kingfishers, intending to use it as a dump for 500,000 tons of power station ash from Didcot power station, which was this week named as the fourth most polluting power station in the world by the World Wildlife Fund.

Energy giant npower had claimed the injunction was necessary to stop a plan by protesters to intimidate its employees and contractors by publishing their photographs and car registration numbers of its contractors on websites.

In a set of anonymous statements presented to the court in February, it was alleged that security contractors provided by Shercurity were being threatened by protesters. In the most serious incident, a security guard alleged he was hit by a demonstrators’ vehicle, although he was unhurt.

Controversial term deleted

At the hearing last month, Justice Calvert-Smith agreed with nPower that while an injunction should continue, representatives from all parties should attempt to agree a mutually agreeable form of wording.

The outcome of the discussions, which were only concluded yesterday, have led to the deletion of a controversial phrase which meant “anyone who has been given notice of the terms of this order”, including members of the press, were prevented from publishing any images which could have identified npower’s staff or contractors.

Under the revised wording, the injunction now only applies to the six named defendants and “all other persons acting in concert with the Defendants to deter, obstruct or prevent the Claimants’ intended use of Sandles House and Radley Lakes by harassment, trespass and any other unlawful means.”

No credible reason for injunction

While nPower’s press office have maintained throughout that it was never their intention to prevent legitimate news photographers from covering the story, they have never been able to provide a credible explanation as to why Adrian Arbib was served with the injunction by its solicitors.

In a video shot by Arbib at the time, four masked security guards and two solicitors working for npower can be seen approaching Arbib who was on a public road at a secluded part of the beauty spot.

In later correspondence, npower solicitors Lawson Cruttenden claimed that it was not clear to them that Arbib was a press photographer when he was served with the injunction. But the video clearly shows Arbib identifying himself several times as a member of the press before showing his National Press Card.

Npower’s work on the Radley Lakes site is currently halted following the discovery of nesting birds on the site. An application for the beauty spot to be awarded “town green” status will be heard later this year: if the status is granted, npower will be unable to continue dumping ash at the site.

Neither the National Union of Journalists or Liberty had returned calls asking for a comment by the time of publication.

Want to contact the EPUK Website editor? editor@epuk.org

Comments

What a pity the NUJ didn’t go to Court and show nPower up for what they are. As it is, they have settled out of Court and NPower have discharged Adrian Arbib from the injunction; this discharge now isolates the remainder of injunctees. One of these is a local resident who is no eco-warrier but just happened to be fodder for nPower’s trumped up evidence gathering exercise.

Comment 1: Lakesaver, 18 May 2007, 03:17 PM

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